Artist Brilliantly Illustrates Different Mental Disorders Using Only Paper Clips

Mental Illness Art


In 2013, Project Semicolon began to take the world by storm in a global movement to support those who struggle with self-harm, addiction, and suicidal thoughts. The initiative spawned, among other things, tattoos of semicolons as a symbol of “not the end, but a new beginning.” Inspired by this call-to-action, graphic designer Eisen Bernardo created his own twist on the social campaign. In his series #keepittogether, he replaces the semicolon with a paperclip and uses it in art depicting mental illness and disorders.

Employing the fastener in a variety of colors and compositions, Bernardo uses it as a vehicle for representing afflictions like anxiety, addiction, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Depending on the symptoms, the paper clips are grouped together, meticulously arranged, or in the case of depression, left alone in the center of the composition. “Through these minimalist illustrations,” he describes, “I hope to promote awareness and understanding of the alarming problem.”

Why the paper clip? “A paper clip is a very simple innovation,” Bernardo writes. “It is just a twisted metal but it can keep things together (not permanently though, but still). I even have a paperclip tattoo to remind myself every day that‘I should keep things together.’” As for his symbolic choice of the paperclip, Bernardo explains: “It has a starting point and an endpoint. There is also direction of movement that can depict how people live their lives.” Like the semicolon, it too symbolizes life.

Inspired by Project Semicolon, designer Eisen Bernardo has used paperclips in art depicting mental illness and disorders.

Art Depicting Mental Illness

Bipolar Disorder

Art Depicting Mental Illness

Substance Abuse

Mental Illness Art

Dissociative Identity Disorder

Depending on the symptoms of the disorder, the paperclips are grouped together, scattered, or are all alone.

Mental Illness Art

Eating Disorder

Art Depicting Mental Illness

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Art Depicting Mental Illness

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

“I hope to promote awareness and understanding of the alarming problem.”

Mental Illness Art


Eisen Bernardo: Behance | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Eisen Bernardo.

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Illustrator Draws Humorous Comics About Her Mental Illness to Help Destigmatize It

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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